I don’t think anyone who has watched the movie can enter a large body of salt water without the Jaws theme song thumping ominously at their amygdala. Human beings have a prehistoric terror of what they perceive as blood-thirsty, razor-toothed killers, even though shark attacks are relatively uncommon.
What causes sharks to attack human beings? In the case of yesterday’s incidents off the coast of Egypt’s heavily-trafficked tourist resort town Sharm al-Sheikh, there is speculation that a spate of Yemenese poaching (the Japanese are willing to pay big beans for shark fin soup) may have caused the unusual behavior. But fear not, gentle snorkeler, the authorities have shut down the area until the perpetrator is captured.
One man and two women are receiving treatment for wounds received from what officials believe was one particularly angry white-tip shark. In separate incidents that occurred over the past 24 hours, the Russian tourists were snorkeling in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula when attacked.
As a result, the Ministry of Tourism instructed Egypt’s Chamber of Diving and Water Sports (CDWS) to close down all beaches with the exception of the Ras Mohammed Natural Preserve, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
This precaution will be in effect until the oceanic white-tip shark is captured and relocated, which is expected to occur by the end of the day.
The CDWS chairman Hesham Gabr told the paper that they are monitoring the situation closely and that they are trying to determine the cause of what they called “unusual behavior.” He also mentioned that shark fishing, which has been outlawed since 2005, may have contributed to the shark’s freak ire.
Typically this species would not be found so close to shore, according to Richard Peirce, who works with the UK-based Shark Trust. Since 1580, when researchers began to record shark attacks on humans, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported, only nine were carried out by white tips.
One Sharm al-Sheikh snorkeler died from a similar incident (but a different species) in 2004.
When captured, the Red Sea white tip will be moved to a tourist-free zone in the Gulf of Suez and tourists will be permitted to resume their diving activity. But will they want to?
:: image and story via Al-Masry Al-Youm
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